MUSIC WORLD: *UPDATED* One Year Later… My Extended Review of Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d. city”
*One Year Later*
What a difference a year makes? With popular culture’s attention span being shorter than Kevin Hart, it’s amazing that this album still has legs. People are still listening, still talking about it, and still fawning over Kendrick – really now more than ever. Since this release, Kendrick Lamar has provided amazing guest verses (Fucking Problems, How Many Drinks Remix, 1 Train, etc.) and crowned himself the King of New York. A young nigga from the west coast decided he was King! How audacious of him. In a year that saw albums from heavyweights like Nicki Minaj, Nas, Rick Ross, G.O.O.D. Music, T.I. & 2 Chainz, this is the album everyone is still talking about. Kendrick’s stardom has increased the chatter about his TDE labelmates set to make a splash in the next couple of quarters. What’s left to be seen is what a sophomore album from Kendrick sounds like. Following his Hip-Hop Awards cypher, I am extremely excited. What do you think? Read my original review below.
I can’t even front. I’ve been thirsty for this album to drop since I was first introduced to Kendrick Lamar. Section.80 was everything. I tried not to get too hype for his debut album because I didn’t want to be disappointed if it didn’t live up to what I was expecting (cue: Cruel Summer). But guess what, it did.
My quick review: This is one of the best debut albums from ANY recent rap artist. Definitely in the running for instant classic status. Cop it. You won’t be disappointed.
Want more? Check my full, track-by-track, review below.
Kendrick has emerged as a premier storyteller for our generation. Borrowing from the likes of Slick Rick. Nas, and Notorious B.I.G., Kendrick uses his supreme lyricism to weave tales that feel as personal as if our best friend was recounting them to us. He led off the debut of this album with two “singles.” One served as a buzz-single, “The Recipe.” The other, “Swimming Pools (Drank)” was a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of alcoholism and peer pressure. Naturally it’s become a drinking anthem. Both sound better in the grand scheme of the album. I’m a big proponent of complete projects. By that I mean, I love when an artist takes the time to sequence tracks in a way that they tell a story. Mr. Lamar has presented good kid, m.A.A.D. city in this manner.
The album opens with the first mention of Sherane and the voices of a group of young men that sound straight from the set of “The Wood.” The storytelling kicks off immediately with Kendrick recounting his 17 year old self involving Nextels, his first sexual experience, and a hint of gang activity in Compton. Then his mother calls in a hilarious voicemail skit where his father chastises him about dominoes and his mother implores him to bring her car back. The personal notes in this track alone start the album off strong.
One of my favorite tracks of the album, so far, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” follows the opening track. This track fully displays the different flows that old fans are used to hearing from Kendrick. He weaves in and out of the beat, a perfect west coast circa 1995 beat with familiar modern drums and bounce. “Backseat Freestyle” is next. When this track hit the internet early last week, it was just okay. In the full scheme of the album though, it shines.
Another standout track for its content more than anything, “The Art of Peer Pressure” first details why Kendrick doesn’t partake in smoking weed now. Without completely ruining your listening experience, Kendrick picked up the wrong joint. It’s a great story that most of us can relate to involving mob mentality and peer pressure with the homies. Jay Rock serves as his first feature on the next track, “Money Trees.” Kendrick’s use of the word “bish” is hilarious and just as ridiculous and it sounds when us chicks use it trying to be more polite than using “bitch” towards each other. I love how the voicemails from his parents continue through the album making it a cohesive project.
Drake serves as the next feature for a 40-produced track with Janet Jackson‘s angelic voice in the background of “Poetic Justice.” Drake doesn’t disappoint and the song feels and sounds good. The album continues with “Good Kid” and “M.A.A.D city.” The latter features MC Eiht in the second half of the track with stories of the gang violence frequently associated with Compton. It left me wondering where the hell he found MC Eiht, but it randomly works on this track.
His first official single “Swimming Pools (Drank)” also sounds more complete while sandwiched between album cuts. The album version has a little more pizzaz with some added bars. As the album begins to come to a close, Kendrick presents a 12-minute opus titled “Sing About Me, Dying of Thirst.” I love that he meshed these two tracks into one offering. They flow, share themes, and again display Kendrick‘s storytelling ability. And any song that references Menace II Society, well, has won in my book. I don’t know who Anna Wise of Sonnymoon is, but I love her voice on one of my favorite tracks, “Real.” It feels like Kendrick is talking about where fame has got him while he’s still trying to remain real to who he is and where he comes from.
If you have the regular release, the album ends with “Compton” featuring Dr. Dre. Buuut, no one cops the regular release anymore. So depending on
which leak where you copped the album from (iTunes, physical copy, Amazon), your bonus tracks vary. Each include “The Recipe,” “Black Boy Fly,” and “Now or Never” featuring Mary J. Blige. Spotify also has a remix to “The Recipe” featuring the entire Black Hippy Collective. The iTunes version includes “Collect Calls.” Either way, more Kendrick is always welcome.
Whew! So with all that, my overall view of this album remains. This is a great album, easily shitting on so many debut albums from other freshman artists. I was super hype to hear the album and it lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Kendrick Lamar appeared to stay true to himself while still releasing a commercially appealing project. His voice, figuratively speaking, is still apparent.
My overall review: 4.5/5… damn near classic status
Standout Tracks: Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe, The Art of Peer Pressure, Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst
Forgettable Tracks: None, really…
Posted on October 23, 2013, in ALBUM REVIEWS, music, Music Videos, NEW MUSIC and tagged Album Reviews, Black Hippy, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, MC Eiht, music, Music Videos, NEW MUSIC. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.